Realistic Expectations for Language Learning

Realistic Expectations for Language Learning



When it comes to second language learning, everyone has a different opinion on what it takes to learn a language. Some people believe that learning a language is next to impossible, while others believe they can be fluent in a few short weeks. In reality, language learning is very different for every learner and there are many factors that affect the learning process.


Linguistic Similarities

One factor to consider when learning a language is the differences and similarities between the new language and the native language. All languages are different in sounds, vocabulary, and grammar. If the new and native languages have many similarities, the new language should be easier to learn than if the two languages have many differences. For example, languages like Spanish and French are easier for English speakers to learn because they have overlapping sounds and vocabulary as well as similar base grammar structures. However, if an English speaker chooses to learn a very different language such as Mandarin or Arabic, the process will take much longer since there are fewer overlaps and many of the base grammar structures are different.

Authentic Practice

Another equally important factor is the learner’s available time and willingness to practice. While many people set out to learn a language, they are not motivated to practice what they are learning. To be successful in acquiring a language, the learner must spend time actually using the language in all modes: speaking, listening, reading and writing. Taking the material learned in class and applying it in authentic situations is the best way to acquire and retain language.

While it may seem obvious that practicing leads to improvement, affective inhibitions coupled with the ease of relying on the native language whenever possible often result in the learner getting insufficient practice. For example, if two people in the same home are learning a new language, they could plan to speak in the new language together for an hour every day. However, many people don’t make this effort because they are tired after a long day of work or one person is less confident and becomes dependent on the other speaker. If there is minimal practice between lessons, the language learning process is very long and difficult.

Foreign Language Learning for Children: Necessity or Option?

Foreign Language Learning for Children: Necessity or Option?

Relocating to a new country is an opportunity that only a few families get to experience. Some do so even more than once. Although such a move can be complex and in some ways even frustrating, the professional and personal gains can be numerous. The relocation experience often leads to more personal flexibility as well as the professional benefits of increased competitiveness, especially for the moving professional who learns the language of the relocation country.

What about the accompanying family and children? Adults can often more easily see the opportunities in moving to a new location as an expatriate. They get to learn about a new culture and a new language, as well as new opportunities in their career. To many children, however, adjusting to a new environment can be challenging. In fact, children can be set to gain the most in this experience if they are encouraged and helped to seize the opportunity to learn a new language and culture.

Linguistically, younger children have the potential to develop near-native proficiency with pronunciation and intonation in a new language. They also develop a cognitive advantage over children who do not learn a subsequent language as second language acquisition helps to develop critical thinking skills, creativity, and elasticity of mind. In the case of the expatriate children, one of the greatest advantages is that they have the ability to mimic closely the native pronunciation and intonation of a new language through their interaction with teachers and peers. In addition, literacy skills that have been developed in the native language transfer to the learning of the new language. In the long-term, these children will be better suited to work in a global workplace due to their first-hand understanding of the language and culture of another country.

The Benefits of Learning a New Language

The Benefits of Learning a New Language

It is no secret that learning a new language requires a lot of time and dedication. However, many people would agree that the personal, professional and health benefits of learning a new language outweigh the necessary cost of time and effort.

Personal Benefits

A Sense of Achievement and Self-confidence

Learning a new language is an extremely satisfying achievement that anyone can be proud of. Mastering a new language has been shown to facilitate the development of other cognitive and social skills as well. With the development of linguistic, cognitive and social skills, your self-confidence is sure to increase as well.

Enhanced Travel Experiences

Ludwig Wittgenstein, an Austrian philosopher, is quoted for saying “the limits of your language are the limits of your world.” Speaking a second language gives you the ability to communicate within a larger community both locally and abroad. Knowing more than one language can also greatly enhance your travel experiences since you will be able to communicate with more of the people you encounter around the world.

Improved Understanding of the World

The Myths of First and Second Language Acquisition

The Myths of First and Second Language Acquisition

Myth #1: You can learn a second language the same way you learned your first language.

Human beings begin learning and processing their native language at or before birth. During the first few years of acquisition, children are being flooded with language at least 30% of their waking hours (according to the Multilingual Children’s Association). Through this comprehensible input, children learn the sounds, patterns, and meanings of their native language. The exposure and practice continue until children master the essentials around age six and beyond.

Second language learners are not usually given the same amount of time, practice or comprehensible input as children learning their native language. With only three to four hours of truly engaged contact on a weekly basis, second language learners cannot rely on intuition to develop linguistic knowledge (sounds, meanings, and grammar) of a language.

Myth #2: Children are better at learning languages than adults.

The general myth that adult learners can never become as fluent in a language as a child learning a language is based completely on the perceived value of native speaker accent. Prior to puberty, language function occurs throughout the entire brain allowing for greater change and development in phonetic production. However, at or around puberty, language function materializes to the left side of the brain, limiting the learner’s ability to create and distinguish new sounds.

Global LT Honored with an EMMA Award

Global LT, a leading provider of destination services, language training, cultural training and translation services, was honored with its third EMMA Award by The Forum for Expatriate Management for Destination Service Provider of the Year. The event was held on Oct. 4, 2013, at the JW Marriott in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.A. “We are so